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All reviews - Movies (65) - TV Shows (25) - Books (1) - Music (1)

Well Worth A Look

Posted : 11 years, 5 months ago on 5 January 2009 09:46 (A review of Female Agents)

This is a WWII action/drama wherein a group French-speaking agents are tasked with rescuing a British agent, currently trapped in a French hospital. This agent has vital information about the upcoming D-Day invasion and with a German SS colonel in hot pursuit, the team which includes Louise Desfontaines (Sophie Marceau), her brother Pierre (Julien Boisselier) along with their motley crew of female agents are tasked with the rescue.

Les Femmes de l'ombre is a more mainstream offering from France that harkens back to classic WWII mission films. Even though you know how the story is going to end the film still has a number of things going for it.

Despite the story's fast pace, the director is still able to explore the characters and their motivations. The acting is excellent: Julien Boisselier gives a nuanced performance as Pierre Desfontaines - he comes across as devil-may-care and sometimes callous but the interrogation scenes show just how much of a struggle he faces to be strong in the face of cruelty and pain. The other team members are inexperienced but chosen for specific abilities: Gaëlle (Déborah François) is good at making bombs but has never been on a mission, Suzy (Marie Gillain) has a previous liason with the German colonel and Jeanne (Julie Depardieu) is willing to kill (she was previously on death row).
But still, this is very much Sophie Marceau's movie - she is both luminous and tough - willing to do what is necessary but at the same time knowing that what she is asking of the other women might be more than what they can handle.

The special effects in creating wartime Paris are seamless that I felt that the production was able to work on the Paris streets but dress it up in the 1940s style.

It is these things that make up for the predictability of Les Femmes de l'ombre and makes for good viewing.

My only beef is that the tagline touts film as being 'based on true events'. This is misleading because it implies that the film's story actually happened. Instead it was inspired by the exploits of highly decorated SOE agent, Lisé de Baissac.

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Excellent Re-telling

Posted : 11 years, 5 months ago on 4 January 2009 02:43 (A review of Frost/Nixon)

Ron Howard's re-telling of the historic interview between David Frost and Richard Nixon in 1977 is surprisingly gripping. Like with Apollo 13, Howard manages to imbue tension and "what's going to happen next?" feeling into an event where we already know the outcome.

Though the interview proper is the meat of the movie, what makes it work is the back story of Frost's troubles in getting the show made and Nixon's desire to "get back into the game".

I love the cinematography - the light-filled but slightly bleached look really fits the period and the costumes are great.

Michael Sheen as Frost and Frank Langella as Nixon play well off one another but it is Langella that steals the show - he captures the dynamism of Nixon the man, a wily, shrewd politician who is a bit bruised and battered but determined to make his way back to ultimately being a defeated man. In the final scenes of the interview I forgot that I was seeing an actor and instead I was seeing the heart of Nixon.

Though much of the movie revolves around the two characters going head-to-head, the supporting roles played by Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, Rebecca Hall, Oliver Platt and Toby Jones as the slightly sleazy agent all add layers of believability to this movie.

The script also manages to inject humor in certain moments: Nixon going on about Frost's Italian shoes and Jim Reston's vehemence that he won't shake Nixon's hand but ends up doing it makes it a more balanced movie.

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Weird, But In A Good Way

Posted : 11 years, 5 months ago on 3 January 2009 02:10 (A review of Gorillaz)

I remember seeing the video for [Link removed - login to see] on MTV and being struck by the strangeness and beauty of both the visuals and the song. The same can be said for the Gorillaz self-titled debut album - a delightful, original mix of hip-hop, pop and dub.

On first listen, I was confused - the lyrics at times are nonsensical - but I started enjoying the album after a few complete spins. The music is very up-beat and will have your head bopping constantly.

Favorite tracks: Re-Hash, Clint Eastwood, Tomorrow Comes Today, Double Bass, Rock The House, 19-2000, Latin Simone and M1 A1.

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A Blah Re-make

Posted : 11 years, 5 months ago on 24 December 2008 12:44 (A review of The Day The Earth Stood Still )

The Day the Earth Stood Still had the potential to be a decent sci-fi movie. The visuals and musical score created an atmosphere of foreboding but these weren't enough to make for a truly enjoyable movie. This was because the story was poorly developed and the characters had no depth and it seemed like the movie was a showcase for advertisers more than anything else.

Keanu Reeves does the unemotional bent that he's known for and Jennifer Connolly doesn't have much to do. This movie takes the cake when it comes to annoying characters - Kyle Chandler's character was excruciating to watch but ultimately kudos go to Jaden Smith for portraying one of the most irritating characters EVER! Yes I'm being sarcastic. I didn't connect with the child's pain and he just came across as pesky.

Sadly this movie is watchable but ultimately forgettable. Go watch the original instead.

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The Ending Spoils It

Posted : 11 years, 5 months ago on 22 December 2008 06:01 (A review of The Forgotten)

It's been 14 months since Telly Paretta's son died in a plane crash. As she struggles to cope her psychiatrist tells her that she doesn't have a son, the memories she has are all made up. Telly's refusal to believe that her child is simply a figment of her imagination leads her to discover the truth about what happened 14 months ago.

The premise of The Forgotten is a good one - just what is reality? Can memories be manufactured? are just some of the questions the film tries to answer. Julianne Moore does a remarkable job portraying Telly's pain and anger at finding out her memories of her son are being stolen. She finds an ally in Ash (Dominic West), a father who denies the existence of his daughter but slowly comes to realize that he was made to forget.

I was really enjoying this psychological thriller - it had good pacing, good acting, the suspense was palpable and there were some great chase scenes - until the final reveal. After that plausibility is replaced with ridiculousness and when the reason why the memories were being erased was revealed I almost spit out the drink I was having from the shock that the writer of this movie expected his audience to be so dumb. Just plain lazy writing that totally destroys any enjoyment from the earlier part of the movie.

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Posted : 11 years, 6 months ago on 1 December 2008 01:14 (A review of The Omen)

A remake of the 1979 movie, The Omen, where an American diplomat (Liev Schreiber) comes to realize that his son is the Anti-christ.

The only good thing about this re-make is Mia Farrow as the nanny. She brought some creepiness to an otherwise unscary film (the scene where she's feeding Damien strawberries was the only time I felt ill at ease). She played the character in an understated, quiet manner but at the same time you sensed her determination to "do right" by Damien.

And now for the bad. Let's start with Julia Stiles. UGH! How this woman cannot act - she's so ineffectual, so drained of life that I couldn't dredge up even an ounce of sympathy for her. Also Liev Schreiber and her do not make for a believable couple.

The kid who played Damien kept trying to pass constipated for scary. That look does not make you the Anti-Christ.

Much of the dialogue in this movie was bad. At the beginning when a priest tells Robert Thorn (Schreiber) that "God will forgive this little deception", Thorn should have run away. The movie would have been over in five minutes but that would have been a good thing.

I spent the entire movie making snide comments about what was going on screen which is the only enjoyment I got. So with tepid acting, especially on the part of Julia Stiles, a ho-hum plot and very few scares this movie is just not interesting to watch.

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Not Perfect But Still Very Interesting

Posted : 11 years, 6 months ago on 24 November 2008 01:26 (A review of Perfect Creature)

This is a vampire movie set in an alternate modern-day reality where vampires are humanity's protectors, providing breakthroughs for cures to the deadly viruses. But when one of the Brotherhood goes rogue and starts killing humans a high ranking vampire joins forces with the police to track the killer down.

I found Perfect Creature to have one of the more original concepts for a vampire movie than I've seen in a long time. Though the plot fizzles out towards the end, the mythos laid out is intriguing. I loved the atmosphere of a modern-day Victorian era with steam powered cars, the traveling blimps and the gritty, dirty sets. Just wonderful!

Saffron Burrows plays a kick-ass police captain - I know she looks like she could be blown over by a gust of wind but she really holds her own here. My only disappointment with the acting is that Dougray Scott was too dour.

The special effects are decent enough though some of the fight scenes relies too much on cgi.

All in all, I thought that the first half of Perfect Creature would have made a fantastic short movie but despite its shortcomings, the film is more interesting than other recent vampire movies (Underworld, I'm looking at you).

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She Sees Dead People

Posted : 11 years, 6 months ago on 23 November 2008 03:32 (A review of Ghost Whisperer)

Melinda Gordon can see and talk to dead people. She uses her gift to help these earth-bound spirits cross over.

If you've experienced the loss of a loved one you can appreciate the show's sentiment about finding peace in the aftermath of death.

For about a third of season 1, the show's tone is more heartwarming but shifts to suspense with emotional drama. This makes Ghost Whisperer come across as a blend of Touched By An Angel and Supernatural - two styles of story-telling that don't really mix. I was turned off by the blatant cheap scares through different camera angles and spooky music. Also, the change in tone from scary to heart-string-pulling is often times abrupt and readily apparent and leaves me feeling suckered into having an emotional response for the ghosts Melinda is trying to help.

I do like the chemistry between Jennifer Love Hewitt and David Gordon - their connection and relationship as husband and wife is nicely played and makes up for the weaker plots.
I also like that Melinda doesn't need to hide her gifts from the people close to her and that Jennifer Love Hewitt plays Melinda with a good mix of strength and vulnerability.

I have only watched season 1 and am not sure if I will continue to watch it because ultimately show's tone spoils it for me. I'll probably watch an occasional episode but Ghost Whisperer will not become a regular viewing habit.

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Posted : 11 years, 6 months ago on 17 November 2008 01:42 (A review of Flood (2007))

If you've seen one disaster movie then you're better off not watching Flood. It's a mess - predictable plot, cliched dialog, bad acting and even worse directing. There's no sense of timing and the action criss-crosses between the various characters at a dizzying pace that makes it difficult for you to feel for any of them.

For a good cast of actors - Robert Carlyle, Tom Courtenay, David Suchet and Joanne Whalley, only Joanne Whalley does a halfway decent job.

I have two words for this movie: Stay Away.

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Excellent Follow-up to Casino Royale

Posted : 11 years, 7 months ago on 9 November 2008 02:33 (A review of Quantum of Solace)

Quantum of Solace picks up where Casino Royale with James Bond seeking vengeance for Vespa's death. It's a quest that takes him from Italy to Haiti as well as Austria and Bolivia.
This Bond is less charming and more of a relentless machine, willing to do whatever it takes to get his answers.

The action is all out - sometimes over-the-top but there's a grittiness that prevents it from becoming cheesy. Marc Forster also puts in some slower and more human moments that form the heart of the film.

My only fault with the acting is Gemma Arterton - her character, Fields, doesn't really do much and seems out of place. Olga Kurylenko is pretty good - she does a much better job than in Max Payne. I have no complaints with how Daniel Craig plays Bond and Judi Dench as M is always excellent. Mathieu Amalric as Dominic Greene is a decent enough villain but sadly as a foil for James Bond, he seems to fade into the background when compared to Bond's presence. I was hoping for a bigger role for the guy who plays Mr. White because he seems like a better Bond villain.

My other quibbles with the movie are that some of the action relies to much on the shaky cam principle and that it isn't really explained who/what Quantum is. Perhaps they will delve into this in the next movie.

Even though is a more serious action movie, there are moments of humor - perhaps not the kind of humor people expect of a typical Bond film but I don't think that's a bad thing.

Thoughts on the theme song "Another Way To Die": loved the verses, hate the chorus.

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